(Continued from page 1)

Peach ginger detox green tea from Malai Kitchen in Dallas feeds the consumer demand for green teaIn a panel discussion on soft drinks, Tristano presented data showing a 50-percent increase in iced coffee mentions on menu boards at quick-service restaurants over the past year. Frozen blended drinks were on 15 percent more menus, and specialty coffee rose 10 percent.

Exhibitors at MUFSO showcased single-serving pour-over coffee, a brewing method that is popular at avant-garde coffeehouses.

Small but growing drink categories in quick service include specialty bottled beverages, energy drinks, sports drinks and Arnold Palmers, a 50/50 mix of iced tea and lemonade.

Although quick-service operators are having the most success with energy drinks, they’re gaining traction in full-service restaurants, too, Tristano said.

Green tea sweetened and flavored with fruit, such as peach and pomegranate, remains popular and was on offer during the Supplier Exchange. Limited-service chains have tapped into the trend. Sonic Drive-In, for example, launched green tea earlier this year, vice president of marketing Todd Smith said on a beverage trend panel. And McAlister’s Deli chief executive Frank Paci said at the same panel that the chain was also testing green tea at some locations.

Millennials are going for sweet drinks, MUFSO panelists also noted. Flavored vodkas, such as cupcake and chiffon, are driving consumption of the spirit, David Henkes, executive director of Technomic’s Adult Beverage Insights Group, said. Sweet wines, such as Moscato, are tremendously popular among younger drinkers, said Megan Wiig, senior manager of beverage innovation for Ignite Restaurant Group.

Salty-sweet, mini desserts popular

When it comes to desserts, Kruse observed the use of on-trend pretzels in items such as the Dairy Queen Blizzard. MUFSO exhibitors featured another salty item — salted caramel — in brownies and ice cream.

Miniature desserts, popularized as far back as 2002 by Seasons 52, were also on display by MUFSO exhibitors. Chain chef Clifford Pleau said in a panel discussion that small treats are an important part of a healthy lifestyle.

“Deprivation doesn’t work as a diet, but celebration does,” he said.

To entice customers, Seasons 52 servers bring diners trays of its Mini Indulgences, rather than passing out dessert menus at the end of the meal.

Contact Bret Thorn at bret.thorn@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary